From the Outside Looking In

 “Surviving Code 3”

When I read about code 3 collisions and their subsequent trail of misery, suffering and loss, I tell myself this doesn’t have to be.  As a member of ALERT Int’l, I mentioned my feelings to Captain Yates.  He kindly invited me to put it in writing.  In my over 25 years of developing driver training technologies, I have found few professions outside of law enforcement that demand  as much vigilance, competence and skill in order to survive while performing their job. This is especially the case when driving with lights and siren.

Vigilance in driving requires processing constant situational awareness snapshots  of your driving environment, pedestrians, traffic, road conditions, evolving hazards, essentially your changing world second by second.

Competence is your ability to interpret and act upon what your vigilance acknowledges.

Skill is your ability to control the situation that your vigilance and competence has just handed you.

Those attributes, when balanced can improve an officer’s survive-ability. Developing solutions to safely and effectively reduce police code 3 collisions resides in balancing theses job related qualities.  This is easier said than done because in the real world the simple balancing of these three critical attributes are not all the officer is dealing with. When the lights and siren go on, serious distractions compete with the discipline learned in class or on the track; changing physiology, perishability of past training, bad habits creeping in on skills and interpretation of and conformance with department EVO policy.

I have seen the assigned training officer take on the job to maintain or improve officer driving proficiency with little or no department priority for his initiative.  But how often does that happen compared to when its needed? Given the complexity of the task to drive code 3 and the seriousness associated with the consequences for when things go wrong, what can be done?  Repackaging those nuggets of wisdom reinforces proficiency in vigilance; a first but crucial step in rearming drivers with the tools needed to survive code 3.

Over the last few years, technologies have evolved that can meet these needs. I will be the first to acknowledge that a good training officer can design a training regimen that compensates for the loss of a driver’s ability to recall those essentials for good decision making, however, their time, resource and budget is limited.  Technology that is online, available 24/7 and that prepares the driver to make good decisions while navigating the streets with lights and siren exists now.  Data collected over the last 4 years confirms that. Depending on the size of your organization, it costs as much as dinner at Burger King.  If your department needs help in this area, do some research on the web for “online EVOC tools”; then ask around, what works and what doesn’t work.  It seems that until we change what we are doing, we are doing nothing to make a change.  It doesn’t have to be.
Reg Welles is the President & CEO of Applied Simulation Technologies.